I attended an Ash Wednesday service early yesterday morning. It was my first, and I was quite touched by the somber yet hopeful mood in the sanctuary. Also, it is so tangible and humbling to have someone spread ashes in the shape of a cross on your forehead and speak to you a truth you often forget: From dust you came and to dust you shall return.
It was also a new experience to walk around the rest of the day with what one man called "smudge" on my head, people's stares a constant reminder of the season of Lent I had promised to enter into. Then again, there was another man who, emerging from his car and seeing me and my friend Joanna, simply exclaimed, "Yay, Catholics!" Though I am not Catholic, I had to agree with his sentiment. Catholics, Lutherans, and other more liturgical types definitely know how to bring the beautiful and real to life in faith.
Last year, I gave up my car for Lent and found the experience beneficial. I used my times of walking as times of prayer and donated the gas money I saved to a charity. This year, however, I was not sure what to "give up" for Lent. Every idea I had seemed trite. So, I have decided not to give up but to add on.
Over the last several years I have let slide a spiritual discipline I once loved: prayer journaling. The next 40 days of Lent, then, I pledge to return to the practice. I look forward to what God will show me during this time. Likewise, I invite you, my friends and family, to share with me any prayer requests you may have. Leave them as a comment on my blog or facebook or send me an email. I would love to pray for you on a daily basis!
The Lord be with you.